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Difference Between Freeware and Shareware

Freeware vs Shareware

Freeware and shareware are two software terms that are often used interchangeably without people knowing which one is the more appropriate term to use. Much of the confusion stems from the fact that both are usually free to download and use. The difference between shareware and freeware begins when you realize that shareware isn’t totally free, and you need to pay a certain price in order to enjoy the software’s full potential or to continue using it. Freeware is just that, free; you can use it for as long as you want without having to worry about price.

To encourage users to pay for shareware, there are two common restriction strategies. The first is a limited time period where you can use the software to its full potential. After the time period expires, you then need to pay for the software to continue using it. The second is to omit certain capabilities of the software and only make it available to registered users. Freeware doesn’t have any restrictions, and what you see is what you get.

The term “shareware” leads you to believe that it is all right for you to share the program with your friends. This is true for the unregistered version of the software. But once you’ve registered and what you have is the unrestricted version, you are no longer allowed to share the software as it would be piracy. Again, freeware doesn’t have the same restrictions and sharing is allowed if not encouraged.

The main downside to freeware is that authors do not have an incentive to develop the software further. Since no payment is necessary, it cannot pay the bills of the author. Most authors of freeware depend on donations or just do it as a hobby. Some software, which at one point was sold commercially, has lost their profitability due to age and other factors. These are then made available by the authors as freeware. Because shareware is still profitable, many users are inclined to pay for a registered version. Shareware authors have the incentive to make the software even better.


1.Freeware is free while shareware can have an associated price for continued use.
2.Freeware doesn’t have any restrictions on it while shareware commonly does.
3.Freeware can be freely shared with others while registered versions of shareware cannot.
4.Freeware is commonly stagnant while development on shareware is continuing.

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